Eisley and Cyrus with Uncle Jarett and Poppy

I love my kids. Cyrus, our two-year-old boy, is a brilliant, hilarious, rambunctious little man. Eisley, our five-month-old daughter, is a happy, exuberant, and loving little girl. I think about their precious little faces and my heart melts. Every time I hold them I have to press my lips into their big, puffy cheeks. I can’t help it. They both have huge cheeks! (Five years ago, I never would have thought I’d be talking about things like this. My, how things change!) Last night was a tough night with the kids, though. 

We’ve been trying to figure out how to get Eisley to sleep through the night. So last night we decided to swap the kids’ bedrooms. Eisley has been with us, so we moved Cyrus’ bed into our room, and put Eisley’s crib in Cyrus’ room. We thought this would help us let her cry herself back to sleep when she wakes up in the middle of the night. What we didn’t count on was how the new change of scenery would affect our son.
Cyrus was up until 3:00 AM this morning. I have no idea why. He was tired, as were we. He was sleeping on the same bed he always sleeps on. He was even asleep when we went to bed. But at 11:45, when Eisley started crying the first time, he woke up and didn’t go back to sleep for over three hours. For those of you who may not have kids, that’s a long time. A really, really long time.
When he finally fell asleep…well, if you’re a parent, you know what happened next. Eisley started crying. One kid goes down, another one gets up. That’s the law of childhood. That’s what the kids talk about in their baby-language. We think it’s nonsense, but it’s a real language. Let me translate for you.
Cyrus: “Hey Eisley, when you cry tonight, make sure you cry loud enough to wake me up.”
Eisley: “Why, big brother?”
Cyrus: “Because–oh wait, here comes mommy–ice cream, basketball hoop, baby Eisley, Veggie Tales–okay, she’s gone. You need to make sure I wake up so that I can keep mommy and daddy up until 3:00 AM.”
Eisley: “But why would you want to do that?”
Cyrus: “I don’t know. Do I need a reason for everything?”
Because babies are out to get us cute and cuddly even when they keep you up until 4:45 AM.

There’s just something about freedom. Paul tells us that freedom is the very reason that Jesus set us free. Redundant? Not if we understand that freedom comes from the heart of God, and as such, freedom is an end in itself. Freedom is the will of God. But do we know what freedom really is?

It seems like we take freedom to mean something like, “the right to do whatever I like.” As long as what I do doesn’t directly harm someone, I am “free” to do whatever my heart desires. But this is not the biblical sense of freedom. In fact, this is closer to the biblical view of slavery–enslavement to our every desire. If we are unable to say “no” to something, then aren’t we slaves to it? Freedom is the power to say “no” to our basest and most destructive desires.
The freedom for which Jesus set us free is the freedom to obey. This freedom is not enslaved to the selfish desires of our wicked hearts. Rather, God’s freedom is revealed in a heart that has been humbled by the gospel. True freedom comes through submission to Christ. Freedom is obedience to God.
God has set us free from sin in Christ Jesus. We are no longer slaves to wickedness. Instead, we have been set free to obey the law of Christ–something we never could have done when we were living in bondage to sin. Sin is a wicked master. But God is gentle, humble, and full of loving-kindness. He is our new master, and his love for us compels our obedience. It is only through obedience to God that we find ourselves truly free.
As we celebrate our country’s freedom, I can’t help but think about the freedom that God has granted me. To my shame I too often reject his freedom, and choose rather to be enslaved to the evil desires of my old self. Would that I embrace the freedom of Christ through obedience to God.

As I was putting Cyrus to bed tonight I could tell that it was going to be a long time before he would fall asleep. Normally this would frustrate me, and I would huff and puff about how he doesn’t sleep even though he’s EXHAUSTED, and WHY DON’T YOU JUST ROLL OVER AND GO NIGH-NIGH! YOU’RE TIRED! YOU’RE DELIRIOUS WITH FATIGUE! SLEEP IS BECKONING AND YET YOU RESIST! ALL IN AN EFFORT TO FRUSTRATE ME, YOUR LOVING FATHER!

But the Lord has been working on me, and so tonight I decided that, rather than get angry, I would pray. And so I prayed out loud. It was just the two of us in the room, and he was quiet while I prayed. I prayed for everything I could think of, and he just laid there, tossing and turning occasionally. And then, as I paused to think, he started talking.

Now, when Cyrus talks, you just let him babble on until he gets to the last word of the sentence, which is really what he has been talking about all along, and the only word you can understand anyway. So he’s babbling on and then he says, clear as day, “Baby Eisley, Mommy, Daddy.” He was praying for us! My little two year old son was praying for his family! How amazing is this? How blessed am I? The Bible says that the prayer’s of a righteous man avail much. But what about the prayers of a little child? Even more, I suspect. I am truly blessed.

Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
–Joseph Hart, “Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy”

God redeems. He buys me back when I sell myself to sin. He purchases me with the blood of His Son; and it seems He does this time and again, day after day. He forgives and forgives and forgives. 

Would that I could but get it right, then I would have no need of His forgiveness. Would that I continue to get it wrong, that I might receive His forgiveness every hour. I am a continual sinner and a reluctant saint.
How can I draw near to the One clothed in glorious light? Would His glory be sullied by my shame? Would my darkness snuff out His light? Oh thank You, Jesus, that I am small. I cannot change You. I cannot degrade You. My sin is a grain of sand before the mountain of Your righteousness.
I need You, Jesus.

I’ve had an idea for a screenplay running around in my head for almost four years now. Back in 2004, while I was in Yosemite, I wrote almost 80 pages. But I’ve scrapped it all, started over, and have written 25 pages in the past three days. It feels like I’ve been pregnant with this idea for four years, and now I’m finally going into labor. (I’m sure my wife would point out that this is, in fact, nothing at all like that, and who am I to suggest such a thing.) Strangely enough, even though this is an R-rated script, I feel that writing it is an act of obedience to God. Whether or not it ever gets sold, the act of writing it, and finishing it, is and will be a huge step for me as I continue to grow and try to follow Jesus.
The best part about this process is how I’ve been collaborating with my wife on it. After the kids go to bed, we sit down and talk through the characters and events in the story. She gives me great feedback like, “I don’t think she would do that, no matter how much of a bitch she’s supposed to be.” (I know, she totally has a foul mouth.) She’s also being a really great listener, and I find myself going on and on about random little details in the story. This process has been great for our marriage as we do something fun and creative together. I love that the script is ours, and not just mine.

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